Some notes from around and about the Mirror newsroom to keep you abreast of what we're doing and what we're trying to do:
There's an emphasis on versatility in today's newsroom, not just ours but across the country and especially so at medium-sized papers.
Reporters who once were asked only to write the news are now asked to take pictures when possible, blog when appropriate and, in some cases, even grab a page and lay it out.
This is due in part to the demands of the 24/7 news cycle and having another vehicle, altoonamirror.com, to post breaking news.
When I came to the Mirror in 1978 - 30 years ago last month - we were an afternoon paper, including Saturday, and didn't have a Sunday edition.
We also didn't publish on holidays. This is not a complaint because publishing every single day has made us better.
But the pace years ago was much different - which is what made Phil Ray's performance Monday afternoon all the more impressive.
Ray, our senior reporter and a newsroom treasure, came back from his daily rounds at the Blair County Courthouse when he heard about a fire in Sinking Valley.
Despite his more than 40 years with the Mirror, Ray hasn't lost his enthusiasm for covering the news. He's equally comfortable sorting out the emotional details of a trial as he is playing 1-ADAM-12.
Monday, he grabbed a camera, raced to the scene, snapped a photo of the remains of the DeGennaro home and delivered a touching story of the family's loss.
The package led our Tuesday paper.
It made us feel badly for the DeGennaros - who thankfully suffered no human or animal losses, remarkable given they have five children and five pets - but appreciative for the hustle of a reporter like Phil Ray.
In case you've wondered why some pages that are traditionally in the A section have been moved lately - like Business, the Hometown pages or even Opinion - it's to deal with some tweaking of our press and the usual color availability for the annual holiday advertising rush.
Thanks for your patience.
Joe Hurd, executive director of the Blair County Chamber of Commerce but once the editor of the Catholic Register, showed off his writing talent in this month's Blair Business Mirror.
Hurd talked of "replenishing the caviar in the employees' lunchroom" at the chamber.
His descriptive writing was exceeded only by his sarcasm.
To the person who spends 42 cents multiple times a week to mail me a handwritten, anonymous barb, by all means, keep 'em coming.
It was nice to see former Mirror advertising salesman John Kasun in last week's Religion section signing in his church choir. Kasun spent his entire career here and was followed for a decade-plus stretch by his son, Bob.
Funeral directors follow a steady path in and out of the Mirror.
That's why it was touching to see Guido Santella, who has brought hundreds of obits here, delivering the obituary of his mother, Mildred.
Mildred Santella, who was 89, died Nov. 30. She was fittingly honored this past spring at the Altoona YMCA's Tribute to Women.
Ironically, she was followed a day later by the passing of long-time colleague Lester Plank, a 94-year-old funeral director.
Mirror Managing Editor Neil Rudel can be reached at 946-7527 or firstname.lastname@example.org.